Dress Rehearsal


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‘It doesn’t seem weird anymore’ I thought, looking at myself in the mirror as I walked past.

When it had first been suggested that I’d need to wear a bald cap for our latest amateur dramatics club presentation, I laughed. I laughed even more when I saw myself with it for the first time. I’d really struggled during the first dress rehearsal because all I could think of was how ridiculous I must look with no hair.

I could see my fellow actors looking at me slightly askance and I just got the giggles. Not very professional and not good for an amateur either. I had to apologise to the director afterwards and buy a round of drinks in the pub as my way of saying sorry.

The play was only on for a week, but by the end of it, I’d got used to seeing myself in the cap, with its slightly unnatural lines and it had ceased to draw any comment from my fellow actors. I wasn’t the butt of their jokes anymore. What surprised me was that Rick didn’t mind it. I thought that he’d be repulsed by the sight of me without my mop of blonde hair, short though it was. He said that I looked “interesting” when he saw me at that dress rehearsal and by the final performance, he was one of those who didn’t mention it or appear to think anything of it. He always said that he didn’t really watch the plays that I did, had no interest in drama and only went along to help out with the sets and any general stuff that needed to be done. He was a trooper in his own way, willing to do anything, even taking his turn to sell programs if needed.

It was actually my short hair that had got me the role in the first place. I knew that the other actress in the company was better suited to it, but her long red hair was just too bulky to work with the cap and there was no chance of her cutting it off, as one of the wags had suggested. So, I got the biggest role I’d ever played thanks to a whim on a holiday three years previously when I’d got so sick of the heat that I’d just walked into the first hairdresser that I saw and asked them to chop my ponytail off. Since then, I’d gone shorter and shorter as I became more comfortable with being a short-haired person. I knew that I’d never waste my time on long hair again.

I was just coming off stage after the final performance when I bumped in to Rick. He hugged me and said that I’d been wonderful.

‘Oh yes’ I said suspiciously. ‘Which part of my interpretation of Sonia did you find most true to the original?’

He looked at me. I smiled.

‘You didn’t watch it, did you?’ I challenged.

‘I watched some’ he said. ‘Just trying to be supportive’ he replied.

‘That’s very kind of you’ I said sarcastically. ‘I’ll be as quick as I can’ I said, poised to rush off to get changed.

‘Keep that’ he said, pointing to my head.

‘What?’ I asked.

‘See if they’ll let you keep that on. Maybe “Sonia” will get lucky when I take her back to my place’ he said with a leer.

I looked at him.

‘”Sonia” is staying at the theatre, going back in the dressing-up chest. You can take Debbie home, the way you usually do. She might like to get lucky herself’ I said, wondering at his suggestion. One of the other actors brushed past on his way to the dressing room, apparently finding it a little awkward that Rick and I seemed to be having a fight in public.

‘I’ve got to go’ I said.

‘Just ask’ he called after me. I wanted to get changed and get home, but I was intrigued by his request.

I sat in the make-up chair, ceded by the other cast members to the only female in the production. Our make-up was done by the owner of a local beauty salon who was happy to provide her services for free. Another one with an interest in community theatre, but no desire to tread the boards herself.

‘You were marvellous’ Sheila said, hugging me briefly before letting me sit back in the chair. Just as she was about to start, I thought about what Rick had said.

‘I know this sounds odd, but can you leave the bald cap? I want to show a friend what I look like with it on’ I lied.

‘Wouldn’t it have been better for them to come and see the play? she asked.

‘Probably, but I don’t think that she likes the theatre very much.’

Sheila wasn’t quite sure what to do. She’d built up a routine and now I’d spoilt it. She tentatively began removing my make up, unspoken questions clearly forming in her mind while she worked. I could fully appreciate what a weird request it was, but I was excited about what would happen when I got home. It was a bit of a thrill and wholly unexpected. I’d never considered the idea that a man would find a woman without hair to be attractive, but when I put my mind to it I came up with several examples of women that I thought were beautiful without hair. I just hadn’t considered that it would be a choice by either the woman or her significant other.

All of these musings allowed Sheila to work uninterrupted and in no time she was clearing her things away. I sat in the chair, looking at myself, ungowned. I was out of character and now I thought that I just looked slightly odd. I wasn’t an amateur actress now, I was me again and supposed to look completely like me, but the reflection that was staring back was so different. Well, if it made him happy.

I thanked her for her indulgence and headed to the car to meet Rick. I saw him look up when he heard approaching feet. Then I saw him smile.

‘Hi’ I said as I opened the door.

‘Er, I’m just waiting for my girlfriend’ he said.

I looked at him. He wasn’t joking. My Rick was trying his hand at role-play!

‘Forget about her. Let’s just go somewhere’ I replied, slipping easily into the pretence. Without going into detail, it wasn’t long before I was past caring whether I was Debbie or Sonia.

It was a couple of months before we were rehearsing for the next play. Once again, my hair wasn’t right for the character, although this time, it was way too short for what was needed. The other actress was on her honeymoon for most of the run, so once again, Fate had given me a chance at a reasonable role. My blonde crop needed to be sultry dark tresses, so it was back to the chair with Sheila while she fitted me for a wig. She found one that she thought looked good and fitted it expertly, taking me back a good few years to when I last had hair that was down my back. I flicked my head, trying to get a feel for it, but all it did was to reinforce my determination to stay short.

The play went well for the two week run that we did. On the final night it was just me and Sheila in the make-up room, chatting easily as she returned me to my normal look. She tossed the wig to one side and I looked at it lying there, abandoned. She was taking my make-up off when I had a thought.

‘Could I ask you a really big favour?’ I said.

‘Sure. You can ask’ she chuckled.

‘I wanted to surprise Rick. Say “thank you”, you know.’

‘What you do in the privacy of your own home is nothing to do with me’ she replied.

I smiled.

‘He thought that the bald cap was fun You wouldn’t have time to fit it for me again, would you?’ I asked. ‘I’ll let you have it back tomorrow’.

She paused from what she was doing and looked at me. I watched her left eyebrow lift slowly. She smiled.

‘So he was the “friend” all along. I did wonder’ she said with a smile. ‘Whatever turns you on’ she added.

‘It’s not that’ I started to say defensively. She held her hand up to silence me.

‘We’re both big girls. If something does it for your man and no-one gets hurt, then why not?’ she said with a beaming smile.

I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t deny the effect that it had had on Rick when I went home the last time with the bald cap on. He’d been like a cock possessed, more enthusiastic than I could ever recall. I wanted that again and if it took some mild embarrassment with Sheila to get it, then it was a price worth paying.

Despite whatever reservations or objections that she had, Sheila waited patiently while I got changed into my own clothes and then went through the laborious process of fitting the bald cap again. This was no slap-dash job, she took as much care as if she was preparing me to go on stage. I loved to see the cap slip over my head again, the way that it looked even before the edges were completely done.

‘You know, this would be easier if you went a bit shorter next time you get your hair cut’ she said, fiddling round the edges to make sure that my hair was tucked in all the way round.

‘Sorry’ I said. ‘It doesn’t have to be perfect.

‘It’s not that. It’s just that if you’re going to make a habit of this, it’d save a lot of time. If you went really short, you could put this on yourself, you wouldn’t need me to do it for you.’

She looked at me in the mirror.

‘I’ll see. It depends on Rick, I suppose. Maybe the novelty of seeing me like this will have worn off.’

It was an obvious suggestion from her perspective and one that should’ve been glaringly obvious to me too, I just hadn’t considered it. I’d arrived at a point with my “image”, if I can call it that, where I liked the way that it was and knew instinctively what needed to be done to maintain it the way that I liked it. In my mind, I’d arrived where I wanted to be, but Sheila obviously thought otherwise. She was entitled to her opinion.

‘Maybe, but if not, I mean it, go shorter, you’ll get a much better finish’ she confirmed.

I didn’t reply, preferring instead to watch the final stages as the flimsy rubber swallowed the “everyday me” and instantly created a more exotic version of myself. I wondered why Rick got more excited by that version of me than the one that he had most of the time. The bits that mattered didn’t change, regardless of what was going on with my hair, and after all, it was those that he headed for instinctively. I even wondered whether he thought about cutting his own hair. It was one thing to like me as a pretend baldie, it was quite another to have the power to do something for yourself. He didn’t need to worry about persuading anyone, it was his hair and if he wanted to cut it, there was nothing that I could do to stop him. I could object, but he could still do it if he wanted. So why hadn’t he? Was he worried what I’d say, worried what other people would say?

Sheila made sure that I was as good as I was going to get before she’d let me leave. I thanked her profusely, making a mental note to get her some flowers for her trouble. She wished me luck and I went out to the car park, my stomach fluttering.

When I got home, I opened the front door with the sort of excitement that I’d thought had left me when I was a teenager. I was so looking forward to surprising Rick and certainly wasn’t disappointed. He did a “double take” when he looked round from the television and from that moment, whatever game had been on ceased to interest him. It was as much as I could to to get my shoes off before he was reaching for my buttons. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that the awkwardness at asking Sheila to do the cap for me again was so worth it.

Over the coming days, Rick and I setted back into our normal routine, which in his case was working too hard. I did what I could to take his mind off work when he got home, but it was a struggle for a while. His birthday was coming up and I booked a weekend away without telling him, in the hope that things would have quietened down in the meantime. After a couple more days, it was becoming clear that he wasn’t going to be finished for his birthday and I started to think about cancelling the trip.

On the odd occasion when we watched a bit of porn, Rick would comment on the contrast between the hairless pussies of almost every woman he saw on screen and my own, trimmed, but comparatively full bush. We’d even ended up arguing once when I told him that there was a difference between “screen women” and real women. At that time, I’d resolved to keep what I’d got, just to annoy him, but things were so fraught at work for him that I decided that I’d pander to his little peccadillo to try to take his mind off things for a while. The trip might be under threat, but he still deserved a little treat. I resolved to take care of things in the shower the following morning.

In my mind, I’d planned to use Rick’s electric razor to do the deed. I’d seen him use it to trim his sideburns and that seemed ideal for what I needed. In practice, I didn’t prove very adept at working the contraption and ended up resorting to scissors and the razor that I use for my legs. There was much swearing and contorting and the whole exercise was much more difficult than it should’ve been, but in the end, I stepped into the shower. I tried to stick to my normal routine of starting with a hair wash and then working my way downwards. That fell apart when I got stuck as I reached my new playground. Who knew what a revelation was to be had by removing a patch of hair? I stuck around for ages enjoying the new sensations that could be had with just the aid of some soap and the fingers of one hand. What a great way to start the day!

I was so pleased when the mundane remainder of my day was interrupted by the sounds of Rick’s car pulling on to the drive. He came through the door, just as he did every night, letting out a sigh of relief that he could take his tie off and relax. The one thing that was different about tonight was that he was greeted by the sight of me in a black, lacy body-stocking. His briefcase was left where it fell and he paused while he tried to work out if there was some special occasion that he had forgotten.

I stood in front of him, legs slightly apart, looking for a reaction. I watched his eyes wander across my body, lingering on my barely-covered boobs, trailing downwards, until they finally arrived where I’d expected them to be all along. He reached out to touch me, but I took a step back. Just because I was standing in front of him practically naked didn’t mean that I was going to make it too easy for him. I told him to sit down while I got him a beer and felt his eyes on me as I headed to the kitchen to get it for him. When I came back I reached him his drink over the back of the sofa, brushing my hand across the top of his head gently as I brought it back.

‘Bloody Hell’ he spluttered.

I hadn’t taken account of his obvious impulse to take a sip of the drink that he had just been handed and my unexpected caress had caused him to spill his beer.

‘Sorry!’ I said, stroking his head again.

‘Don’t worry about it. Next time just remember that when you’ve brought my beer, you should go straight back to the kitchen and stay there until I’m ready for more’ he said.

‘It wouldn’t surprise me if you weren’t joking when you say things like that’ I said. I sensed a witty retort about to pass his lips and moved my hand down across his mouth. ‘No need to answer that’ I added. I stroked his head again, pleased to see that he leant back towards me slightly. I was having an effect. I paused momentarily to let him take a sip of his beer and then bent forward to relieve him of his glass. I put it on the occasional table next to him and went back to work, concentrating on what I was doing, trying to find a decent rhythm, work out an appropriate level of pressure. There was only one way to gauge my level of effectiveness and that was to consult the traditional measuring device that comes attached to the man in your life. I leant forward to check his bulge-ometer, which was currently displaying a more than passing interest in what I was doing. He hadn’t got a full hard on, but there was certainly some stirring in the trouser department.

There was no doubt that Rick was enjoying having his scalp massaged. He’d shown no further interest in his beer and that told me all that I needed to know. He only had the one when he came home from work, but he liked to enjoy it. What I was doing had surpassed that. I increased the pressure, enjoying the way that he was letting me play. I decided that it was time to see just how far his enthusiasm went.

I leant forward and whispered in his ear. ‘Your hair’s getting long. I think we need to take you for a haircut’ I said playfully. No response. ‘That’s what we’ll do. Get you a nice short haircut. Would you like that?’

I still got no response. I wasn’t sure whether to be annoyed at being ignored or pleased with myself that I was having such an effect on him. I pulled a lock of his hair and then went back to the previous massage movement. I looked at his dark hair, the way that I’d messed it up from how it normally lay, in that effortless way that it did. It had been a while since he’d had it cut, three or four weeks, but it couldn’t be described as in need of attention. A quick comb and he’d be back to normal. He’d never been one for short haircuts, not while I’d known him anyway. He wasn’t a clipper guy, scissors were plenty good enough for him and now here I was telling him that I was going to take him for a short hair cut. He hadn’t reacted, because he was probably concentrating on what I was doing. I grabbed a fistful of hair again.

‘I’m going to cut this off’ I said, starting to wonder what he’d look like with really short hair. Would I like him with shorter hair? Would it suit him? Did it matter? I was very conscious of being wet. I bent over and kissed him, knowing that it would only lead to one thing. He kissed me with more interest than he’d shown for a while and then with a bit or repositioning, we were taking each other’s clothes off. I watched him struggle to get my body-stocking off, wincing as he ended up just ripping it off. His attention turned to the change in the landscape.

‘Where’s Kitty?’ he said.

That wasn’t the reaction that I’d hoped for, but it was the reaction that I should’ve expected from him.

‘Kitty’s not there anymore’ I said with a sigh. I’d been with him long enough to be resigned to his inability to respond in the manner that I’d like sometimes.

‘We need to find her’ he said urgently.

‘She’s not here’ I said.

‘She can’t have gone far, she’s left some cream’ he said, smiling at his own crudeness.

‘She said that you can have it’ I said, not believing that I was saying it. I looked down to my mound, still unable to get over just how prominent it looked without any pubes. I touched a finger to myself. The glassy-smoothness of my mound felt more wonderful than anything that I could think of just then. I regretted not having done it before, when all I needed to do was to let the razor take the lot away. Rick’s fingertips joined mine as he tried to convince himself that the pussy he’d known for so long had gone and that it had been usurped by a bolder, balder creature that was putting its tongue out in anticipation of a first kiss.

This pussy was more brazen, more determined and proved to be much more demanding than its predecessor. Rick’s head dipped, his tongue slid in and my head went back as I sank into a wonderful place. After the most intense few minutes that I could remember, Rick looked up from between my legs, my juices glistening on his chin.

‘Kitty’s definitely not in there’ he said, I gave him a playful slap round his head and pressed his face into me again.

He changed position and stared into my eyes as he impaled me, there’s no other way to describe it. Deep, determined to go deeper. I returned his gaze, daring him to try harder.

When neither of us had anything left to give, I went upstairs for a shower, unable to get the smile off my face. I could get used to this, I thought. I dried myself off and put my robe on, leaving it open at the front so that Rick could have every opportunity to get used to the absence of my bush. I stood in front of the mirror, my hair brushed back, admiring its sleekness. It wasn’t the bald cap, but it was the next best thing. I hadn’t actually noticed that Rick had come into the bathhroom for his shower and saw me admiring myself. He kissed the back of my neck.

‘That’s different’ he said, ruffling my damp hair. He paused for a moment and then asked ‘What was all that about cutting my hair?’

‘Just a thought’ I replied enigmatically, before slapping him on his bare backside and leaving him to clean himself up.

While he was showering, I ordered in for dinner and you just know what dessert was!

A couple of days later, my phone pinged with a reminder that I had an appointment to get my hair cut. I’d forgotten all about it and it was a bit of a rush to get ready in time. I ended up rushing through the door, looking and feeling flustered, not at all the sort of graceful entrance that I like to make.

By the time my stylist called me through, I’d caught my breath and managed to down a cup of herbal tea, which was just what I needed. She started to chat and before I knew it, I’d been shampooed and was being combed through, the same as she always did.

‘I was thinking of going a bit shorter’ I ventured.

She paused, as if I’d said something truly awful.

‘You think?’ she said, squeezing a handful of hair through her fingers. Her look was almost disapproving. ‘I think you should stick with where you normally are. It really suits you like that, it’s a little bit cheeky, but super-feminine. Any shorter and you’d lose that.’

‘I think I’d like to try’ I replied, thoughts of Sheila’s comments about making the bald cap process easier at the forefront of my mind.

‘Let’s see how we go, shall we?’ she said, looking at me firmly in the mirror.

It was at that point that I realised that I was probably going to have to find a new stylist. I welcomed her advice, but who did she think she was to be the final arbiter of how I wore my hair. Needless to say, I left the salon looking exactly the way that I normally did. It wasn’t cheap and although I still had the curiosity and spirit of adventure, I didn’t want to go and blow the same sort of money again on getting it cut somewhere else. I’d spend some time to find another salon before I next needed it cut again. It meant going through the process of deciding whether I liked someone, whether I liked the vibe at the salon, all that sort of stuff, but it would be worth it. I felt that I’d been let down by someone who I’d come to think of as a friend. She clearly had other ideas.

I went straight home and started to think about Rick again and how his lot was still fairly shitty at the moment. He was meant to be working from home, but I thought that it was worth trying to prise him away for a couple of hours, after all it had been ages since he’d done anything other than work. I hadn’t been that long at the hairdresser’s, so it wasn’t even mid-morning when I suggested to him that we should head into town and get lunch. I promised that he’d be back straight after and could pick up where he left off. He was reluctant at first, but I think that even he could see that it would probably do him good to get away for a bit.

I thought that we could have a look round the shops before lunch, but we perhaps didn’t pace ourselves very well, because it wasn’t long before we were in need of a sit down in a coffee shop. I sat and people-watched, while Rick took advantage of the free newspaper to catch up on some sports gossip. Normally, that would annoy me, but that day, it was fine. I was happy with my thoughts and watching the world go by.

We’d finished our coffees and were just deciding on where to go next when I saw Rick’s attention move away from me and towards a woman who’d just come in. He tried to hide it, but he knew that he’d been caught. I picked up my bag and put it on the table, glancing at the newcomer again. She was at the counter, ordering something to go, rather than looking for a table. Rick clearly had wide-ranging tastes, because this woman had sleek black hair down on to her shoulders, rather than my own short, blonde hair. Or maybe it was the tight jeans, defining a backside to die for. Rick was a confirmed “arse man” and he’d clearly sensed that there was a target nearby. Our “first time” was me bent over an armchair at a party, I’m embarrassed to say, so I can’t claim that he’d ever kept that particular interest from me.

By the time we’d gathered our things, she was already heading out of the shop. Just in time for Rick to steal another glance and for me to make an appreciation from a female perspective. I could see now where the sleek black hair came from. Her skin was olive, clearly of Mediterranean extraction. I said nothing, but fully understood why Rick would look. We turned out on to the street and just happened to still have her in our sights, a few paces ahead. I’d taken the lead, so it wasn’t as if Rick was stalking her. My choice of direction had been decided by the wish to look at shops further away from the mall where we’d just been. I glanced in a couple of windows as we passed, but then noticed that the girl had made a sharp turn into a shop. I made a mental note of which one, just so that I could let my imagination create a little storyline around her. We were passing the shop in seconds. Not a shop. A salon. She’d gone into a salon. I made a sharp change of direction, towards the shop opposite, where I would be able to see the salon reflected in the window. She had either been taken straight in or was a member of staff. She had to be a member of staff who’d just popped out for coffee. I looked at Rick. He looked at me.

‘I don’t mind you know’ I said.

‘What?’

‘You’re allowed to look’ I clarified.

‘I wasn’t’ he protested.

‘Well you missed a great arse then’ I said, surprising him. He looked at me.

‘Oh, her’ he exclaimed guiltily.

‘Yeah, her, the one with the great arse’ I confirmed.

‘I didn’t really notice’ he said.

‘How’d you fancy a closer look?’ I asked. Blank face. I reached into my bag for my phone. He looked at me.

‘Read me the phone number for that place, would you?’ I asked, glancing over my shoulder. After a couple of false starts, I’d keyed in the number and it was ringing. I watched the receptionist in the reflection pick up the phone to answer my call.

‘Hi’ I said, trying to compose myself. ‘I wonder if you can help me. A friend of mine had his hair cut in your salon and recommended the stylist to my boyfriend, but we can’t remember her name. He said she had long black hair, lovely olive skin.’

‘That would be Ria’ she said.

‘That’s it, Ria. I’d like to make an appointment with her for my boyfriend then’ I said, looking at him. He raised his eyebrows and looked at me with his best ‘WTF’ expression.

‘When for?’ she asked.

‘We’re in town now, so how soon could she do it?’

‘How soon could you get here?’ she asked, surprising me.

‘We’re only round the corner at the moment actually. You’re in King Street, right?’

‘Yeah’ she replied casually.

‘Can she take him straight away then?’ I asked.

‘She’s just on a break, but she’ll be back by the time you get here’ she said. I wouldn’t bet on it, I thought.

‘That’s great, thank you so much.

‘What’s the name?’ she asked.

‘Debbie’ I replied, excitedly.

‘I thought it was for your boyfriend’ she said.

‘God, how stupid. Yes, his name’s Rick’ I said.

‘And you’re coming too?’

‘Yes, I’ll be with him.’

‘Okay, we’ll see you shortly’ she said.

I looked at Rick.

‘Looks like you’re getting a haircut’ I said.

‘What if I don’t want one?’

‘I want you to have one.’

‘What if I don’t want to?’ he repeated.

‘You have my permission to look at that girl as much as you like while she does it.’

‘That’s okay then’ he said sarcastically.

‘My choice though.’

‘Your choice to let me look at her?’

‘My choice of haircut.’ He looked at me warily.

‘I’m not going to like it, am I?’ he said.

‘You’ll like it, because I’ll like it and then you can take me home and have your wicked way with me’ I said with a wink.

‘But I can do that anyway, without getting my hair cut.’

‘Not any more. No haircut, no Kitty’ I said, trying to put on my determined face. Kitty would be sad though, if he called my bluff.

‘You’re not talking an ordinary haircut, are you?’ he asked after a moment.

‘Possibly not.’

He looked at me intently again.

‘You’re going to have to offer more than that to get me in there’ he said purposefully.

‘They’re waiting’ I said. He carried on looking at me. ‘What?’ I asked.

‘I think you know. Little bottle of oil…’ he said quietly.

‘Really? That’s your price for a little haircut?’ I said. Rick had spoken the previously unspoken. Something that I’d suspected that he’d he’d wanted as long as we’ve been together, but which has never held any attraction for me. Sure, I’m curious, but that’s as far as I’ve ever got. Actually doing it? No. Not for me.

He looked at his watch pointedly. I stared at him. Thinking over what had brought us to the point of standing outside a hair salon talking about him getting a haircut that he didn’t want and me getting, well, you know…

I could see movement at the salon reception. An expectant stylist, a receptionist wondering if she’d just been talking to a time-waster.

‘I’ll think about it’ I said ‘but I’ll need a big bottle of oil’ I added.

‘As much as you like.’

‘I don’t like, you know that.’

‘And I don’t want a haircut.’

‘As long as we’re both happy!’ I said, taking the first step towards the salon. I looked over my shoulder to see if he was following.

Two pairs of eyes registered the approach. The girl from the coffee shop was on the right, an older, blonde woman to the left. The receptionist who’d made me nervous. Both smiled as the door opened.

‘Hi’ I said. ‘I rang a few minutes ago.’

‘Debbie?’ the receptionist said.

‘And Rick’ I replied, sensing him just behind me. ‘ Here’s Ria, ready and waiting’ the receptionist said with a smile and a glance towards the sultry looking stylist. She was quite a looker close-up. I was almost doubting the wisdom of giving Rick a free pass to look all he wanted.

‘Okay, folks, if you’d like to follow me’ Ria invited.

‘What foresight for her parents to call her that’ Rick said quietly as we moved past reception. I paused for a moment before getting it. Beavis and Butthead strike again! I was just pleased that his focus was on her rear rather than mine for the time being.

She led us into a salon area that was bigger than I’d expected, with each styling area partitioned with rather arty panels to give each section some privacy. She stopped at the far station and rested her hands on the back of the styling chair, giving us chance to catch her up. I’d never been in a salon where each area was self-contained, with styling chair and full basin. A recliner at that.

‘Ladies first’ she said, looking at Rick and then at me.

‘It’s just Rick’ I said.

‘Barb’s got you both booked in. She’d written down “Debbie” and then “Rick”‘ she said hesitantly.

‘There was a bit of confusion. I made the call, but it was for Rick. I only had mine done this morning, actually’ I explained succinctly.

She looked me over, as if to check for signs that I might be lying. ‘Are you sure? It’s booked and everything’ she said, having convinced herself that I did look like I’d come out of a salon recently.

She was starting to make me feel bad. I looked at Rick, who shrugged, helpful as ever.

‘I’m really sorry’ I said, motioning Rick towards the chair with a flick of my head.

‘I’m in no hurry if you want to do yours’ he said pointedly looking at me. Ria looked confused at what was going on, but then Rick made a move, which seemed to settle her down a bit. She picked a gown off the stand and deftly swung it round him.

‘Make yourself comfortable’ she said to me, looking at the chaise-longue which led to the basin. She made sure that I managed to sit down successfully and then asked the question.

‘So what are we doing today?’ she asked, running a hand over the top of Rick’s head, her fingers sliding through his tresses. Do men have tresses? Should they have tresses? Were they called something else on a man?

‘Debs?’ he said, turning towards me. The stylist followed his lead.

‘I just thought that it’s time for a change. Something a bit different’ I replied.

‘What were you thinking?’ she asked. I’d probably be asking myself that when we got home.

‘Shorter. Obviously. Short’ I said, condensing my thinking as far as it could go.

‘What would you call short?’ she asked, lifting a tress so that it stood upright from Rick’s scalp. It was about five inches long.

‘A lot shorter than that. Something that he can just wash and go’ I said. She started to position her fingers in relation to the out-stretched man-tress.

‘Tell me when to stop’ she said, slowly narrowing the distance between the tip of the tress and Rick’s scalp. I said nothing. I saw her look at me, surprised.

‘You’re thinking that short?’ she asked, fixing me with an incredulous gaze. ‘What do you think about that?’ she asked, looking at Rick.

‘She’s the boss’ he said. ‘Whatever she decides, I’m right behind her, aren’t I, dear?’ he added, looking round at me. Bastard!

‘You don’t have to, if you don’t want to’ I said, trying to keep my composure.

Our battle of wills was interrupted by the understandably impatient stylist.

‘How about if I make a start and you just tell me when to stop?’ she ventured.

‘That’s probably a good idea’ I said, noticing that she didn’t stick around to debate any further than that.

She was in professional mode, arming herself with some electric clippers and fitting them with an attachment from the selection arranged on the shelf in front of Rick.

‘Let’s start with a number eight, shall we, just in case it’s not what you have in mind?’ she said, looking pointedly in my direction.

Number eight? Meant nothing to me. May just as well have called it “orange”. I had nothing to relate it to. I watched her slide the clippers up the side of Rick’s head, watched the clippers move effortlessly, watched the first of Rick’s man-tresses tumble. Felt a little flutter where I shouldn’t have, which was quickly brought to a halt by the recollection of our conversation before we came in.

‘That the sort of thing?’ she asked, interrupting my thoughts at a crucial point.

‘I was thinking shorter, if you can’ I said.

‘I can, no problem. A bit or a lot?’ she replied.

‘Both’ I replied, probably trying to be too clever. ‘You could either take a lot off or leave a bit, it’s up to you.’ Even I thought that I was being a smarty-pants, so I could only imagine what she was too polite to say.

She nodded. She reached across to the shelf and swapped one attachment for another. The clippers went to Rick’s forehead and slid across the top of his head.

There was that fluttering again. I waited for her to ask what I thought, but she was carrying on regardless. What could she do if I said that it wasn’t what I wanted though? I felt a pang of guilt at the sight of Rick’s tumbling hair, but liked the way that he was being transformed before my eyes. He was becoming edgier, more interesting, more rugged, if you can say that of someone who drives a desk for a living. I was amazed at the speed that she was able to work at. It seemed like only seconds since Rick’s hair was its normal, respectable self. Now it was mostly lying in his lap and his head was bristly. What was left was half an inch or so. He was very different.

The stylist looked at me. She raised an eyebrow. I made a face that was intended to convey “go on then”. I wasn’t sure how she interpreted it, but it had the desired effect. Another change of attachment, another sweep over Rick’s crown. It was less obvious from where I was sitting, but the end result had to be that Rick had less hair. She ran them up the side of his head so that I could see. The bristles were more bristly than they’d been before. I could see skin through what was left.

There was a pause. An inquisitive eyebrow. A confirming face. Another eyebrow movement that defied interpretation. The attachment came off. The hair at Rick’s temple came off. There was skin. Only skin.

‘Just the sides or the top too?’ she asked, unable to convey that question with her eyebrows. She worked up the back of his head while I pondered my response. She answered for me by sweeping the clippers up and over. Shit. She’d done it. She’d really done it. I wanted to put my hand to my mouth, but didn’t dare. I was watching her strip my man of his hair. Hair that he still wanted. How could I have done that to him? Through it all, he was staring straight ahead. Plotting his revenge, no doubt. I sat bewitched as she ran the clippers over his scalp again and again, with diminishing returns from every movement.

Eventually she accepted that there was no more to be harvested. All three of us were silent. Ria looked at me and ran a hand over Rick’s bare scalp.

‘Jump up for me and we’ll get you rinsed off’ she said to Rick. He stood up, looking at me slightly sheepishly. The bravado that he’d shown on the street outside the salon had gone, along with his hair. He was still Rick, but not as I knew him.

‘Hello, handsome’ I said, standing up, once I realised that Rick needed to be where I currently was in order to get his head washed. Not so many minutes ago, it would’ve been to get his hair washed, but I’d just put paid to that. I stood up and gave him a reassuring peck on the cheek. In return, I got my backside pinched.

‘Make yourself comfortable’ she said to Rick, helping him with the unfamiliar process required to use a backwards washbasin. She made sure that he wasn’t going to knock himself out and then turned to me, indicating that I should sit in the styling chair rather than stand around making the place look untidy, while she rinsed Rick off.

I’d positioned myself so that I could watch what she was doing with Rick in the mirror rather than looking at him directly. I didn’t want to make him more self-conscious than he probably was. I watched Ria come over to the styling station and reach into the small cupboard, emerging with a can of shaving foam. She was going the whole hog, not content with just rinsing off the bits that had stuck to Rick’s scalp from the clippers. She gave the can a shake and put it down on the worktop in front of me.

‘Would you like me to shave it?’ she asked.

‘It’d be best, wouldn’t it?’ I replied, hoping that Rick would agree. We locked eyes in the mirror.

‘Let’s do you first, shall we?’ she suggested, running a hand through my hair.

I looked at her in the mirror, stunned at her suggestion.

‘Like I said, I only had it cut this morning’ I repeated.

She smiled, nodding knowingly.

‘I think you want to go shorter than that’ she said presciently.

I looked over at Rick, lying there expectantly, his head full of who knew what thoughts. He must have heard what she’d asked, but he’d said nothing. My attention was drawn back to where I was by the sensation of being covered in a gown.

‘I wasn’t going to get mine done, that was just a bit of confusion’ I said with an attempt at a smile.

‘I don’t think so. I think you just brought him along for moral support, but you’re the real reason you came in.’

‘If that’s what you think, fine, but I have a regular hairdresser’ I said, trying not to sound annoyed. Was she right though?

‘Which is precisely why you’re here. You want to do it, but you couldn’t bring yourself to ask them, because you know they’ll try to talk you out of it’

‘It’s not that. I wanted her to go shorter, but she wouldn’t. She always cuts it like this and she just said that she thought that I should stick with it’ I told her, a hint of residual annoyance in my voice.

‘Really? She wouldn’t do what you wanted? How short did you ask her to go?’ she asked cleverly.

‘I didn’t get that far’ I replied.

‘So what are you going to ask me to do?’

‘Take me shorter’ I replied as if it were the most natural thing for me to say.

‘And how short would you like me to go?’ she challenged.

I looked across at Rick, prone, relaxed, probably imagining that he was on a sun-lounger on the beach.

‘You’re not being very helpful, you know. You could at least look like you’re trying to support me’ I said in his direction.

‘What do you want me to say?’ he asked.

‘That doesn’t sound like he objects to you doing it’ she said, before I could respond.

‘He’s like that’ I said, not really knowing what I meant.

She scrunched the hair on my crown in her hand.

‘All you have to do is tell me. I won’t try to talk you out of it’ she said, scrunching a bit harder.

‘I don’t know. I do amateur dramatics sometimes. I had to wear a bald cap last time. The make up artist said that it would fit better if my hair was shorter’ I said a little too fast.

‘So is that why you want to go shorter or is it because you liked the way that you looked with that bald cap on?’

‘I don’t know. He liked it’ I said, trying to divert attention away from me. It was becoming a bit intense.

‘So we all seem to be on the same page here’ she observed cryptically.

I watched her reach for the clippers and in an instant they were humming. The clippers that had shorn Rick of his previously lustrous locks so efficiently were now angled towards me.

‘Wait’ I said. ‘How short are you thinking, really?’ I asked, accepting that my fate was sealed, but looking for a glimmer of hope. I thought about the bald cap and how easy it was just to slip it off and be conventional again. That wouldn’t be an option if she did what I suspected that she was about to do. This wasn’t someone who did half-measures.

‘We’ll start very short and go from there, how about that?’ she said, not really inviting any input from me, even if there had been any sensible latitude in what she’d suggested.

I contemplated her proposal. I wondered what it would look like. Would it suit me? What did she mean by “very short”. What had I wanted my regular stylist to do, if she hadn’t been so stubborn?

The clippers sounded impatient. I watched them as they were aimed at my neck.

‘How short is “very short”?’ I asked. I was short already, so the natural progression from there was “very short”, just as she’d said. I wanted to know so that I could make a comparison between her approach and my probably “ex” stylist from the morning. It was an interview question as much as anything, part of her audition to be my new regular stylist.

‘Head down for me’ Ria said, ignoring the question.

I obeyed. I felt contact. I felt a lot of contact. I knew that the hair that I kept fashionably short was now a good bit shorter, but didn’t know how much. I felt sweep after sweep up the back of my head, in that super-efficient way that she’d displayed on Rick. A gentle touch brought my head level. The clippers made straight for my sideburn. My sideburn made for the floor. It was short. Shorter than I’d expected for the first demonstration. Stubbly short. The clippers hadn’t stopped, they were following a direct route to my crown. All I could do was watch.

I was surprised how calm I was. Ria had just got on with it, determined that I’d be alright with what she was going to do. I still wasn’t sure what had given her that idea, but she’d made her mind up. I couldn’t really argue with the conclusion that she’d come to.

‘That’s so much better already’ she said as she turned the clippers off. She brushed a hand over my crown, forcing acrobatics from some of the fragments of severed hair. I looked down at what had been a reasonably expensive haircut, now lying in ruins in my lap. I looked back up at my reflection in the mirror. I looked like a squaddie or a prisoner. My hair was about the same length as Rick’s had been before she moved in for the kill. Same attachment on the clippers probably. That made sense. She bent forward to put the clippers on the shelf. I snuck a look towards Rick. He was propped up on an elbow.

‘Enjoying the show?’ I asked.

‘Can’t wait for part two’ he replied.

“Part two” came in the form of a dollop of shaving cream applied directly from the can onto my scalp.

‘You’re not backward in coming forward are you?’ I said.

‘It’s my job to do what the client wants’ she replied, squirting another blob of foam at me.

‘Even when they don’t really know that it’s what they want?’

‘Especially then.’

‘So do you make a habit of drastic transformations like this?’

‘Whenever I can’ she replied, working the shaving cream across my stubbly scalp.

‘Have you shaved someone’s head before?’ I asked, unable to stop the flow of questions.

‘Only when I think someone needs it’ she said.

‘And you thought that it’s what I needed?’

‘You were crying out for it. Him, not so much’ she said, nodding towards Rick.

‘But you did it anyway?’

‘Why not?’ she replied with a smile.

Why not, indeed. I looked over to Rick, who was staring back at me. There was the biggest smile on his face that I think I’ve ever seen. Certainly on him.

‘What if I don’t want to shave it completely’ I asked. ‘I think I’d like to see how I get on with this length first’ I added, knowing what her response would be.

‘That’s certainly an option’ she replied. I watched as she bared the blade on a cut-throat razor.

‘You’re planning to use that on me?’

‘Both of you. It wouldn’t be fair otherwise.’

‘So it doesn’t matter if I say that I’m happy with the length it is now.’

‘I bet you didn’t think you’d be saying that when you came in, did you?’ she chuckled.

‘Never in a million years’ I replied.

‘Let’s say you’re comfortable where you are. Wouldn’t you like to get a bit closer to the edge, so how much more exciting it can be?’

I looked at Rick. ‘You really want me to, don’t you?’ I asked him. It wouldn’t have surprised me if he’s unzipped there and then, but thankfully he was on his best behaviour.

‘Do you want to? That’s all that matters’ she said.

I thought about it. Did I want to be bald, completely bald? Not a bald cap, properly bald? I was so close that it would be silly not to see what it was like, despite all of my hesitation about what people would say.

One of her hands steadied my head, the other wielded the razor with poise and grace, if those are words that you can use when someone’s shaving your head, even though you haven’t actually told them that you’re alright with the idea. It was too late now anyway, first contact had been across the crown of my head, so all that I could do was to settle down and enjoy the sort of sensations that I’d only ever experienced in very private moments. This was far from a private moment, but there was nothing that I could do to stop the welling up that was going to need to be released very soon indeed. I closed my eyes.

I don’t know how long I was sitting like that for, but I was brought back to my senses by an odd sensation on my scalp.

I opened my eyes with the sort of urgency that you get when waking from a dream. It took me a fraction of a second before I realised that the odd sensation that I’d felt had been Rick planting a kiss on my hairless scalp. He was standing behind me, while Ria had taken a step to my side. I looked at my reflection. I looked at Rick, looking at me. I looked to the side, towards Ria. I wasn’t sure which of us was sporting the biggest smile. I was bald, my boyfriend was bald and the woman responsible was looking as if it was the best day’s work she’d ever done.

‘Time to swap places again, folks’ she said. I got up and headed over to the basin, wondering whether rinsing me or shaving Rick would be her priority. I won. I reclined on the black couch-thing and let her ease my head over the basin. The water flowed and it wouldn’t have surprised me in the slightest if I had too! Her touch was wonderful, the lightest grazing of her fingertips across my scalp, the gentle sensation of water droplets making their way across my smooth skin. It was so lovely that I didn’t want it to end, but knew that I had to get home as soon as I could, for what I hoped would be an Earth-shattering screw.

The towel signalled the end of my little visit to Heaven and I sat up gingerly. I looked at Rick. Rick looked at me. We didn’t really have a hair between us and technically his hair was longer than mine now. The smiles were still there.

I was soon to realise that watching someone’s head being shaved isn’t actually that exciting. Not to me anyway. I found the sight of the first few passes with the clippers to be exciting. Now that I’d had time to process everything, I found the fist swipe of the clippers with no attachment to be exciting, but now, he was bald and just becoming that little bit more bald. There wasn’t much in it though, and I just wished for the process to be over so that we could leave.

Ria turned a couple of times to catch my eye or to look at what she’d done, or something. The second time she’d caught me looking at her backside. Just because I’d got a shaven head hadn’t given me any greater appreciation of the female form, I just tried to see it from Rick’s point of view. I knew that he liked what she’d got, I just wondered what I could do to get my rear-view to be a bit closer to hers. She winked at me! I blushed, feeling like a teenager.

In a couple of minutes Rick was shaved and rinsed. We were done. We’d done it, even though we hadn’t really known what “it” was when we left home. There was a little “dance” as we tried to agree who should lead the way to reception. Ria was clearly aware that the the show of chivalry in suggesting that she should lead the way was only a ploy to feast on the backside that both of us had been caught looking at more than was polite. In the end, I led the way, followed by Rick, with Ria bringing up the rear. How that woman must’ve suffered throughout her life, because of her parents’ choice of name!

I’m glad I went first because the look on the receptionist’s face was priceless.

‘I see you decided to get your money’s worth’ she said with a smile.

‘Ria can be very persuasive, we’ve discovered’ I replied.

‘It suits you though’ she said.

‘I just hope other people agree with you’ I replied.

We paid and left, promising to go back. She had passed the audition with flying colours and even if I decided that I didn’t want to go all the way again, I knew that I could rely on her to make every visit interesting. At that moment, there was only one thing on my mind. We went back to the car, arm in arm, both eager to get home. When we pulled up on the drive, we turned towards each other and stroked each other’s bare heads, before realising that there might be twitching curtains across the road. We headed for the front door.

We stood in the hallway looking at each other.

‘Do you hate me?’ I asked, reaching up to stroke Rick’s head.

‘Not if you come up with a good cover story for me to use at work’ he chuckled. I slipped past him and up the stairs, on the pretext that I really needed to go. I actually wanted to have a quick shower to see if I could recreate the feeling that I experienced when Ria rinsed my scalp in the salon. If anything, it was even better when there were no clothes or social impediments. My fingers could roam wherever they liked. And then it wasn’t just my fingers. They were joined by Rick’s who had slunk in to the bathroom while I was pre-occupied with my hardened nipples.

We washed each other slowly and after drying off, he led me into the bedroom. I turned to look at him, but followed his gaze to the dressing table where a fancy glass bottle had appeared amongst the other knick-knacks that were usually there. Our bald heads were witness to two new experiences, the bottle promised a third. I stroked his bald head and stared into his eyes.

‘Be gentle’ I said quietly, closing my eyes in anticipation of what was to come.

 

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